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Earl Attlee: My Lords, I rise briefly to support strongly Amendment No. 76. I have no interest to declare. I confess, however, that I was a little bit cautious about previous amendments which we considered in Committee to address this issue. I felt that they did not meet all the Government's legitimate aspirations to protect the public. However, I think that the requirements outlined by my noble friend Lord Moynihan fully meet all sensible requirements.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, just to make it absolutely plain, I am grateful to my noble friends who

3 Nov 2003 : Column 566

are advancing these amendments. They will, of course, have the full support of these Benches. The amendments reduce some of what I would call the collateral damage caused by the proposals in the Bill as it stands. I hope that the noble Baroness will find it in her heart to accept them, or make sufficiently sympathetic noises to persuade my noble friends that they need not pursue the matter tonight because the Government will improve on their proposals.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, we have just enjoyed a debate that could take place only in your Lordships' House, and enjoyed it we certainly have. The noble Lord, Lord Monro, said that the Government ought to listen. We have listened. Moreover, as the daughter of a very fine Caribbean cricketer, I can assure him that I intend to protect my wicket as well as I can.

Clause 44 will require young people under 17 to be supervised by an adult when carrying an air weapon in public. So a young person would indeed be able to carry an airgun if he had a reasonable excuse to do so; for example, if he was going to a club. However, he or she would have to be supervised by an adult if they were under 17.

I think that this amendment could not have been pursued with greater force and vigour than that shown by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, who at one stage employed every argument to persuade that it was an efficacious, easy and not complex way forward. If only that were so. The Government have tried to be proportionate in our response to the issue. We believe that these provisions are necessary. It is when a young person is carrying a gun in public that the greatest risk of its misuse arises. It is then that the public most need to be protected. It is then that adult supervision is most required.

I know that the focus has been on what young sportsmen and women will do and on what risk they pose. As your Lordships will know, however, that is only one side of the coin. The issue is not that those who wish to behave responsibly will act improperly, but that those who can remove things from them might act improperly. Indeed, many young people already have the benefit of an accompanying adult.

I say straightaway that I recognise the efforts of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and all the attempts to formulate an exception to the requirement to assist responsible young shooters. I very much take into account what was said by all three noble Earls, Lord Shrewsbury, Lord Peel and Lord Attlee. I think that the noble Earl, Lord Peel, asked the Government to be reasonable and practicable and to show respect for the responsible. However, we believe that we are doing exactly that.

The very conditions posited by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, while not foolproof in themselves, would in combination make it difficult for anyone wanting to misuse an air weapon. We concede that. However, the same raft of conditions would also be difficult for the police to enforce. A complex exception like this would effectively undermine our efforts to tackle the increasing problem of air weapon misuse. It

3 Nov 2003 : Column 567

is perfectly reasonable to expect a young person aged 16 and below to be supervised by an adult when carrying a gun in public. As I say, I hope that that already happens in most cases. Where it does not, it will be necessary to modify that behaviour. That may cause some inconvenience but we do not think it will be of such gravity that it will imperil the sporting community in this country. Our young shooters are extremely good; they are responsible and the adults who guide them take that responsibility seriously. We believe that these provisions will constitute a balance.

We looked very carefully at the issue. As I said on a previous amendment, many argued very strongly indeed that we should not have the exception on private land, that the measure should not be permissible in the way that we have now crafted it, and that we should just expunge it. That view was expressed and the Government have been robust in saying that we want a medium way forward. I am grateful for the acknowledgement of how far the Government have listened to all the issues. However, we have to listen to both sides of the argument, not just one, in order to get a proportionate and balanced response. We believe that we now have that proportionate response. We have sought to take into consideration all the factors and have come up with a workable solution with which ACPO members and the public can be content. We have a safe and proportionate response.

Lord Moynihan: My Lords, I am deeply grateful to noble Lords who participated in this debate. I am particularly grateful to my noble friends, to the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, who is always a wise voice in the world of sport, and to the noble Lord, Lord Addington, whose perceptive comments will, I hope, carry his colleagues through the Lobby in favour of Amendment No. 76.

All the issues have been covered in depth. I believe that these amendments are satisfactory in terms of being balanced and addressing all the issues. Very regrettably on this occasion I am not persuaded by the Minister. Having listened carefully to colleagues, I shall withdraw Amendment No. 71 and not move Amendments Nos. 72, 73, 74 and 75. However, I shall wish to seek the opinion of the House on Amendment No. 76. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 71.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 72 to 75 not moved.]

Lord Moynihan moved Amendment No. 76:


    Page 36, line 34, at end insert—


"(5) It is not an offence under section 22(4) of this Act for a person of or over the age of fourteen to have with him an air gun or ammunition in a public place provided that—
(a) the air gun or rifle is so covered by a securely fastened gun cover that it cannot be used;
(b) the gun cover is securely locked and the key kept separately from the gun;

3 Nov 2003 : Column 568


(c) the air gun or rifle pellets are carried separately from the gun;
(d) the person is travelling directly to or from a place at which he can lawfully use the air gun or where it has been kept on his behalf.""

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I wish to test the opinion of the House on Amendment No. 76.

5.43 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 76) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 119; Not-Contents, 122.

Division No. 2

CONTENTS

Addington, L.
Alexander of Weedon, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Arran, E.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Avebury, L.
Biffen, L.
Blackwell, L.
Blatch, B.
Bridgeman, V.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Byford, B.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Cavendish of Furness, L.
Chadlington, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Crickhowell, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Fearn, L.
Feldman, L.
Fookes, B.
Fowler, L.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Hanham, B.
Hanningfield, L.
Hanson, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hurd of Westwell, L.
Jacobs, L.
Jellicoe, E.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kingsland, L.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Liverpool, E.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Maddock, B.
Mallalieu, B.
Mancroft, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Monson, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Moynihan, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Newby, L.
Newton of Braintree, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbrook, L.
Northover, B.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Parkinson, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peel, E.
Pendry, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Rees, L.
Renton, L.
Roper, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
St John of Fawsley, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selsdon, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Shrewsbury, E.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Trumpington, B.
Waddington, L.
Wakeham, L.
Walmsley, B.
Walpole, L.
Warnock, B.
Weatherill, L.
Wilcox, B.

NOT-CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B. (Lord President)
Ampthill, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Blood, B.
Borrie, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Finlay of Llandaff, B.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jones, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Listowel, E.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McCarthy, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Marsh, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Morgan, L.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Orme, L.
Parekh, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Powell of Bayswater, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Radice, L.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rooker, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sheldon, L.
Simon, V.
Stern, B.
Strange, B.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thornton, B.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Warner, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

3 Nov 2003 : Column 570

5.53 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 77 to 80 not moved.]

Clause 45 [Prohibition of certain air weapons]:


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